Listening to God's Voice

For the last few weeks, God has been giving me little tidbits during my prayer time that have grown into a flood which I need to voice. Sometimes it is hard for me to know what God wants for my life because the world’s voices are competing for attention in  my head when I pray. It doesn’t help when people who are Christians say things that are mere platitudes and are not willing to enter into the broken places with me.

How did this all start? In my family, we’ve been praying about an answer to a situation that’s going to require finances. We had, I thought, been praying for God’s answer. It was brought to mind recently though that we had been praying for the world’s answer and not God’s. We had been praying for resources from the world instead of from God. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! The resources we thought we were going to have are not going to come to fruition. In fact, living for us is going to become more expensive because of health insurance issues which is another issue entirely.

But, back to listening for God’s voice. God has said I need to be on my knees to Him regarding this situation and only listen to what He has to tell me. He’s given me three specific things to pray for which I have started to do. It can be tricky though blocking out the world and only listening to God. People who are Christians can even say things to you that aren’t what God means for you to hear. So, what is the answer to getting past that block? I believe it is discernment. God can use other people to speak to you, but you need to talk to Him about what has been said and see if that’s what He means for you to hear. God’s voice is not always going to say things we like to hear, but He is always going to say it with love and not condemnation. That is Satan’s way, and that is the way he tries to discourage us.

If I wanted to boil it down to the very basics, to hear God’s voice, we need to be willing to pray and to stay in prayer for our families, for our communities, for our countries, and for our world. And we need to be willing to enter into the broken places and tell of God’s hope and healing. That is my goal, and if you are a person who claims Christ, I hope it is yours too.

God’s blessings on you today!

An Update on the Prayer Project

When I first thought of doing this, I had just finished reading and studying Philippians 3. It came out of a desire to know my Lord and Savior well and to go about doing His business no matter what was happening in my own life. Consistent and specific prayer for the people around me was what He wanted me to do.

I’m twenty-one days into this now and thought I would give an update. I’ve already said that the Lord had called me to consistent and specific prayer, but I didn’t outline any other details. I want to do that now so I have a record of what I’m doing. This all came about because I felt awkward about asking  people to pray for me especially for things that were not very serious except to me. When I was thinking and praying about this during my devotion time, God brought to mind that there were probably many others who felt the same way, and then I felt a strong pull to start this project. What I did was take my church’s directory and divide all of the people into groups of five. And I’ve taken time each day to pray for the people on my list. Now, you’re probably thinking, ‘She doesn’t know everyone in her church that well.’ And you would be right, I don’t know everyone at my church. But, we, as human beings, tend to have things in common. And so, for the people I don’t know well, I can still pray for them. I can ask God to bless their spouses, their families, their work, the influence they have on the community around them, that kind of thing. Of course, when I’ve prayed for the people I know better, I can bring specificity to my prayers, but that part is not the point. Everyone deserves to be prayed for, even for the little things. So, that’s what I’ve done. Prayed for my faith community, my faith family, specifically by name.

Now, to the specific impact this has had on me. Satan has tried to stop me. This past month has been a very hard one for me and my family. It has been difficult to maintain focus, but I’ve done so because I was committed to going through the entire directory and praying for each of the people I’ve come to love so much by name.

So, anyway, back to this project’s impact on my own prayer life. I’ve become more sensitized to the conversations around me at church. When people have mentioned certain things, I have made a mental note to put them on my prayer list. God has brought the request to mind each time I’ve prayed, and I have prayed for those requests as well as the people on my list. Calmness and peace are seeping into my life, sometimes through tears, but they are still there. This is not my calmness or peace. I don’t claim it is mine by any stretch of the imagination. Purely and simply, it is God’s, and I am grateful He is always there, in bad times and in good. I haven’t decided what kind of focus my prayer time will have once I am finished, but I know God will give me what I need when I need it.

God’s blessings on you today!

The Beginning of Building a Foundation of Faith

Ever since I came back to Christ a few years ago, I’ve regretted the time wasted. I’ve regretted not having a history of family faith to share with my children. My husband and I have been the ones to start the foundation, and it can be really discouraging. When you see people come to events with brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in tow, and it is just you and your husband and children there, it is…painful.

I realized something when I read my devotion earlier and then wrote in my journal. I do have a foundation. It just looks different from other people’s foundations. From the people who poured themselves into my life as a teenager and young adult to the grandmother who prayed for me though I was not the best granddaughter I could have been because of family dynamics to the people who are speaking words of encouragement into my sons’ lives now, I have gifts and a foundation that are worth more than a pile of precious jewels. Being related by blood is not the only way of building a foundation. Sometimes, the best way to build a foundation is by being a part of family by choice.

When my sons and their children and their children’s children look back on my life, it is my true hope that, through my words, both written and spoken,  that I have shown how much I love my Lord and Savior and that they have a foundation of faith to draw upon as they build their own faith.

God’s blessings on you today!

Philippians 4 – A Deeper Understanding

Finally, I have time to sit down and work on my write-up for this chapter which finishes out my study of this book. When I read through the chapter, I noticed a lot of the verses were already either highlighted or underlined. For me, this means that the verse has already impacted my life in some way. I’ll get to those verses in a minute though.

Paul uses this chapter to wrap things up in his letter to the Philippians. Now, think about this for a second. When you are writing a letter to someone (Yes, I know writing letters is rapidly going out of style), what do you want to finish up with? If you want to encourage them in some way or thank them for something they’ve done, you would be close to what Paul did in this chapter.

In the first section, he appealed for unity among the people at the church and mentioned the names of two women in particular.  Paul didn’t mention specific names a whole lot so this was important to him. He wanted to make sure everyone who would read his letter would know it was important to be unified in the Lord.

And, by staying unified in the Lord, they were also able to remain Christ-focused. The next section has two of my favorite verses in the Bible–Verses 6-7.

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul was wanting to make the point that prayer brings peace. I think many modern Christians would do well to remember this. It is hard though. I find it hard myself. The cares, worries, and anxieties of this world take a hold of me and don’t let go until I remember to bring them to God. That’s the point. I need to remember to bring them to God like Paul says.

The next section takes it one step further. When we stay Christ-focused, it is easier to do what He wants us to do. The characteristics named in Verse 8 are all characteristics which God uses to bring us closer to Him. Paul wants the Philippians to take what they have learned and put it into practice.

And finally, Paul tells the Philippians how much he appreciates them for what they have blessed him with and for their willingness to be used by God for what He wants them to do. This part also has another one of my favorite verses – Verse 13.

“I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

This is really the whole point of Philippians and the Bible, for that matter. Once we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, it is not just us living our lives or at least it’s not supposed to be. We have a Friend, a Comforter, who is always with us, supporting us and loving us, someone we can go to for wisdom and guidance. We just need to take down all of our shields and let Him completely in.

God’s blessings on you all today!